Your favorite Konica manual focus lenses

Started Jul 14, 2022 | Discussions thread
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 9,473
Re: Your favorite Konica manual focus lenses

lattesweden wrote:

Since the other threads about favorite manual focus vintage lenses from different camera brands have gotten the discussions here going again, lets continue with Konica.

Konica was arguably the Japanese equivalent to Kodak in the USA, although it never got as big as Kodak (nor the founded-in-1934 Fujifilm). Konica started selling photographic materials in 1873 and making cameras in 1903. They merged with Minolta in 2003 but ended up passing the camera business to Sony in 2006. In truth, Konica didn't do as well in the camera business as Minolta and wasn't a player in the autofocus SLR market, so the "Konica Minolta" cameras were really Minoltas, and we'll not discuss them here.

That said, Konica did well in the compact rangefinder camera market with things like the C35 -- which did not have interchangeable lenses. Those lenses are still considered quite good and are sometimes adapted despite the awkwardness.

In SLRs, Konica started with the "Konica F" mount -- not to be confused with Nikon F. These are fairly rarely seen. That was followed by the AR mount, which had the same short 40.5mm flange distance as Konica F, but was wider. In this sense, AR could have been the "universal acceptor" of lenses in other SLR mounts, but things just didn't go that way. It also happens to be just short enough to make building focal reducers problematic, and with the smaller market, focal reducers simply haven't been available.

Of course, there are Konica Hexanon/Hexar lenses out there in other mounts too -- including copier barrel lenses, because Konica Minolta still makes copiers. These lenses also tend to be uncommonly seen on eBay.

  • If you where to build a small balanced lens system with Konica manual focus lenses from wide to tele, which ones would you include?

Konica's Hexanon AR lenses are uniformly respected, but they didn't make that many different ones, nor did they sell lots of what they did make. Their fast fifties are particularly well reviewed, although the f/1.2 clips the rear element and is apparently one of the more radioactive lenses out there. So, the one AR lens everybody seeks:

Hexanon 40mm f/1.8

Rightly so; it's an adorable little lens. However, it isn't the magical lens people hope it will be. I describe it as "a longish 35mm rather than a shortish 50mm." It has nice colors wide open, but it's soft and doesn't crisp up until f/5.6. The softness is largely undercorrected SA, so it would be good for portraits, but 40mm is short for portraits. I rate it B+.

  • Which Konica manual focus lens is a must have, no matter focal length or price?

Honestly, none of them.

  • Which Konica manual focus lens should be avoided?

Again, none of them.

They're all fine lenses that tend to be tuned for color, with sharpness wide open not a top priority. In other words, Konica's priorities for lenses were most similar to that of Minolta (although the rendering is quite different), and it makes complete sense to me that the two companies should have merged... just a pity they didn't do it much earlier.

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